|Just add a glass of red wine: Baccelli beans and Marzolino pecorino cheese|
In case you don't happen to have a relative popping in with a bag of freshly picked beans and a wheel of Tuscan sheep cheese, hop into your car and drive to Pienza for the annual baccellata. Luckily, the perfect Renaissance city in Southern Tuscany's Val d'Orcia hasn't forgotten its peasant roots (Pienza was in fact a simple village called Corsignano before Pius II decided to turn his birthplace into a showcase for Renaissance architecture).
|Two days of beans, cheese and vino in Pienza|
PIENZA, Marzolino il primo Pecorino: 27th to 28th of April 2013
Market stalls on Saturday and folk music, games and donkeys on Sunday afternoon (lovely pics from past events can be seen on the website of Pienza's tourist office).
Baccelli and Marzolino are best paired with a glass of red wine. If you can't get your hand on one in Pienza, drive on to San Quirico d'Orcia, its less famous but as good-looking neighbor town. San Quirico and the Bagno Vignoni hot springs are the location of the annual Orcia Wine Festival. The event consists of wine tastings (obviously), a local produce market and a trekking on the new Schifanoia trail that leads from the hot springs to San Quirico d'Orcia's medieval town center.
ORCIA WINE FESTIVAL: 25th to 28th of April 2013
The Orcia wines are a recognized DOC area since 2000. With such a short pedigree, these wines are a totally different story from their famous Brunello neighbors a little further up the hill (also in regard to prices!). Two out of three bottles of Orcia DOC wines are sold right in the area, mostly to the growing stream of tourists, who visit the hills of the UNESCO heritage valley every year.
However, a young DOC region doesn't mean you won't find fine wines. One of my favorite producers of the area is Annalisa Tempestini at beautiful Fattoria Resta in Buonconvento. Obviously, having Montalcino next door also means having access to thorough experience and plenty of winemaking skill.